Friday, 2 June 2017

Paris Agreement Exit: Who Do You Think Is Smarter?

Hey guys I am still angry about yesterday's news. If you know me very well, and you follow some of my articles and posts on social media, then you would know what got me angry. *cough* #ParisAgreement

Anyway, to cool off, I thought I should do this quick research. Please let me know what you think.
Kindly read these tweets from these CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the USA, then consider the decision of the King of Reality TV and Twitter, and tell me which camp is wiser....



















There were many others.

































Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Car Electronics

With this quick article, I hope to challenge and encourage as many young Africans as possible to consider pursuing careers in the field of electronics, and in its sub-field of car electronics in particular. I also hope that this might somehow get to some African leaders who are in the position to affect policies that encourage these youngsters in those pursuits.

My desire is that our beautiful continent begins to produce more and more young engineers that can help us to reduce our over-dependence on the rest of the world (and especially Asia) for electronic equipment and appliances.

The Curious Social Scientist

I know that I am just a bloody social scientist, I hated science subjects back in school. So what could I possibly know about electronics?

Well, it turns out, I have somehow gotten really interested in many areas of technology and science these days. It really started with my infatuation with the Semantic Web, then solar energy and future battery technology (which I call #StoredSun). So when I first learned about electric cars needing advanced batteries, I became hooked on the technology behind those as well.


Electronics For The Lay Man

So my current understanding is that electronics is an offspring of both Electrical Engineering, and the science of Physics.  
In electronics, engineers are mainly building devices that exploit and manipulate the power of electricity and electric charges. Please if you have an even simpler definition that even the dumbest social scientist or artist can understand, I would love it if you shared that definition in the comments below. Thank you.

So, when you look into my definition (hopefully it is correct), you can see that the idea is to competently understand how electricity affects various objects so that we can make those objects work for us in a useful and safe way. The more engineers learn about the nature of electricity and the way it affects physical objects, the better they can build gadgets that make our lives easier.



Africa & Electronics


But if these things can be learned, then why aren't we learning them? Or why is the enabling environment seemingly non-existent in most of the African continent? What is our private sector waiting for? Why do our governments not care about stimulating such interests?

There are so many areas where the study and practice of electronics can be applied to generate wealth for our people. Among these are areas such as manufacture of mobile phones, computers, Ultra HD television sets, digital media players, most hospital equipment, and even home appliances like washing machines and microwave ovens.

I am not talking about being proud of watching the news and hearing a report about one solitary African that built one electronic device. Or of hearing of one computer that was completely manufactured in one African country.
No.


Those are good news indeed. But what we want is an entire burgeoning industry.


However, I am going to focus on one particular area that I am certain is going to present a huge opportunity for Africans who will eventually go into this field:
I am talking about car electronics.


Electronics In Cars And Electronic Cars


Statista estimates that there are approximately 1.2 billion cars and commercial vehicles in use around the world today. Practically all of these cars have some form of electronic system or another at work within them.
In fact, as the automobile industry has matured, we have seen that cars are being built with electronic systems increasingly replacing the mechanical systems within them.


By these mechanical systems being replaced, I am referring to most of the cars that we see on our roads, and are typically built with an internal combustion engine.
In these ICE cars, the engine runs by burning a mixture of air and fuel to produce the thrust of the car.
Engineers achieve this by using techniques from smaller divisions of mechanics like Fluid Mechanics, Dynamics and Kinematics (i.e. the area of mechanics that deals with gears and gear boxes)

But like I said already, a lot of these systems are either being replaced by electronic systems, or being enhanced by mixing in electronics with the mechanical aspects.


Car Electronics

Car Electronics range from transmission ( gear shifting) electronics to things like car entertainment systems and electronic braking systems.
Also take note of the current hype around electronic intelligent parking systems and self-driving systems in cars these days.

And with other technologies coming in from the computer and internet world, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is easy to see the direction in which the automobile industry is moving.
Things are getting more and more electronic than ever before.

A typical electronic car stereo in a modern car. Image courtesy of https://www.clublexus.com/forums/ct-200h-model-2011-present/656439-loving-the-car-stereo.html
What used to only have its place in the car's stereo system, now features in other parts like seats, the steering, the transmission, the air bag, the doors, even the glass.


Electronic devices first started to appear in the insides of cars, but eventually started to spread outward to underneath the hood, and who knows where else tomorrow. Every component in the future automobile could potentially be completely electronic. 

Therefore if you are young engineering and science student in Africa today, I would strongly encourage you to seriously look into this area as a major goal before, during, and after you even get into the university or before you choose your major.


It is good to consider the number of cars currently in use around the world, as mentioned above. Then consider that this number is expected to increase tremendously as populations continue to grow in third world countries, and the size of their economies grow likewise. But also because more people around the world get educated, gain global access and exposure through the world wide web, and become more sophisticated in their needs as standards of living continue upwards.


Electric Cars

Therefore as cars and buses and trucks have evolved over the years, a lot of the working parts within them have steadily evolved into electronic parts.
But what is more profound is the fact that the actual engines of the cars themselves are now becoming completely electric.
Tesla Model S. Full Electric Vehicle. Seen here plugged into its charging kit that easily works with any AC outlet in your home, office or anywhere. Photo courtesy of Tesla.com 

Many of these electric powered cars today still use a combination of electric and mechanical drive trains - aptly called Hybrid cars.
Yet, recent popular participants like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla cars have come out as purely electric.
The success of Nissan's Leaf, and the huge success of the Tesla brand is pushing automobile manufacturers to look in that direction for the future.


One of the trends that is driving this paradigm shift is the hybrid car phenomenon I already mentioned above.

There are indeed already many hybrid cars in Europe and America that use a combination of an internal combustion engine as well as electric power from a large battery to propel the car and economize fuel. These hybrids have steadily evolved, and modern hybrids are getting better and better at minimizing the need for fuel.
But this evolution is progressive.


From HEV to PHEV to EV

Once upon a time, HEVs or Hybrid Electric Vehicles simply used a large battery that is charged by the power produced by the ICE (internal combustion Engine) engine, and then gives back that power to the car to help reduce the car’s reliance on fuel, and save lots of money on fuel costs.


The next phase saw Plug-In Electric Vehicles or PHEVs, which used larger batteries, and charged these batteries BOTH with power from the ICE engine, and also through charging cables that bring in power from any electric source including the AC outlet of your home.

PHEVs are usually more energy efficient than HEVs. Depending on how far the car is being driven, most PHEVs will go many miles without needing to take power from their ICE engines or burn any fuel.
As a matter of fact, the logic behind a PHEV is that the fuel-based engine should only serve as a backup.
Chevrolet's Volt. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (or PHEV). Image curtesy of http://www.hybridcars.com/2017-chevy-volt-will-offer-adaptive-cruise-control/ 

These (PHEVs) in my opinion, are the critical bridge to the future. It is why many are convinced that it is only a matter of time that fuel consuming cars will become completely impractical and unappealing to the consumer.


You can watch an ongoing experiment of this PHEV -> EV shift in the following example:

General Motors of America, who had first built the successful Chevrolet Volt (a PHEV), are going a step further with a new all-electric car they call the Bolt (a full-EV car).
The success and popularity of the Volt (which was designed by a Nigerian Jelani Aliyu) is expected to boost the transition of Hybrid electric vehicles (or HEV) into Plug-In Electric Hybrid Vehicles (or PHEV).

So the progression looks like this:
ICE -> HEV -> PHEV -> EV
As you move from left to right, there is a decreasing reliance on fuel, and a greater reliance on plugging into electricity.
But when you think about the ease and comfort of charging your phones and laptops at home or at work, then it begins to become clearer that this progression is almost certainly going to happen.
The question is, "how soon"?

Perhaps the answer is in the fact that there is this new and unprecedented and clearly authentic appeal for electric cars (thanks mostly to Tesla Motors). Plus the fact that battery technology is developing at a fast pace, and batteries are growing in their ability to pack more and more power into smaller spaces, while working on increasing their life-cycles and charging speeds.
Also the fact that self-driving cars are on the horizon (thanks to Tesla, Google, Apple and Uber) and EV technology seems to be the the only suitable match for them.
These scenarios all collaborate to speed up the eventual extinction of gasoline powered cars. So my answer would be, "sooner than you think".

So my question would be; at what point should Africa join this revolution?

Now, for sure!

We need to encourage our kids to acquire skills in electrical engineering, in electronics as a whole, and in car electronics in particular.
There are immediate gains that could come from developing electronic systems and devices within existing ICE cars. But there are even huger rewards that will come from taking part in building the PHEVs and full electric cars (EVs) of the near future.

We need African governments to aggressively incentivize engineering and technology studies to make this happen as quickly as possible. To produce Africans like Jelani Aliyu. a new breed of young Africans that will aspire to not only do auto design, but also electric powertrain engineering and battery charging innovations.

I honestly believe that every time a major technological revolution is about to occur, it potentially gives those who were previously disadvantaged a chance to close the gap a little.
The transition to the new paradigm is expected to prove quite painful for incumbent big car manufacturers like Toyota, Mercedes, Ford, etc.
Therefore we, Africa, who had not been serious participants in then old automotive shindigs, should gleefully march into the new one.
Right?

Please, let us think hard about this!


Conclusion

Finally, if you are a frequent reader of my future-oriented articles here on Digital Africa, you may have noticed that I am a huge fan of Tesla Motors.
Here is an article from the CEO of Tesla that I think may inspire you the way it has inspired an old social scientist like me to become an enthusiastic advocate of science and technology. (>>> see that short article here <<<)
I wrote an article on LinkedIn about Elon Musk that reveals some depth of the vertically integrated empire he is building. (>>> See that one here <<<)

Also if you are a frequent reader of many of my future oriented articles here on Digital Africa, you would quickly understand that I am trying to get you to prepare yourself or your children and grand children for such a time.
Our student engineers should understand the kind of opportunity that could easily await them in this brave new world of electronic devices and electronic transportation systems, if only they make the right choices today.
But also, if we and our leaders make the right choices for them!

Friends, the internet hasn't just changed the world. It is changing it even more still.
And not so many are paying attention to these current changes. There is much to learn, but there is indeed huge incentive for us to learn it. Please let us push our leaders in this direction because whatever wealth we may have from natural resources (like oil) is only a shadow of the past.
Think about it.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The African Smart City

“Smart people, places, communities, businesses and governments work together to use the modern technologies that are changing our world to make it fairer and more sustainable in the process, giving everyone a better chance of a longer, healthier, happier and more fulfilling life.”
- Rick Robinson

Now Is The Time For Africa To Join The Smart Cities Revolution!

Which of these future scenarios would you prefer?
One future where the super rich politicians in the highest levels of government in Nigeria are chauffeured around in luxury cars that drive themselves while a robot nanny babysits their children at home?
Or would you prefer a future where even the poorest people in Mushin (rugged town within Lagos, Nigeria) enjoy the most comfortable air-conditioned public transport buses that run, not on petrol or diesel, but run mostly on the refuse that is collected day to day in that very town?

I would go for the second scenario. 

But it is not like I have something against robots or self-driving cars. Nor do I have anything against the rich merely for being rich (I hate the kleptomaniac politicians in Nigeria though).
It is because I agree with the Smart Cities ideology that technology should improve the quality of life for all people.

Along with renewable energy and storage, with the Semantic Web, and with future farming that is powered by data and a spirited African youth, the concept of building smarter cities has become one of the topics I am most interested in. 
I strongly believe that African political and business leaders should be incentivizing and driving policies and trends around these and other topics in transformative technology. 

And as usual, in the spirit of Africa Rising, I am to help stimulate the discussion for smart cities in Nigeria and all around Africa. This indeed falls into the mission of those of us who care about a Digital Africa - as the process of planning and implementing smart city projects would certainly cause tremendous increase in employment, skill acquisition and prosperity for the African youth. 

YESSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But first, we must understand the reality and the prevalence of the problem. I am most certainly not about talking of a solution that seeks a problem to solve here.


Defining The Problem: 

Urbanization

Man can control how he plans a city. But man cannot yet control how people migrate from rural areas into any city they chose to migrate to.

When urbanization gets out of control, no matter how well the city was planned, bad things start happening.
Slums develop. Then crime. Costs of housing, transportation, and food go up. Collection and management of refuse (or waste) gets increasingly difficult. It's all pretty bad.

It would be wonderful if we could build cities with infrastructure that can be functionally "elastic" enough to stretch to fit the challenges of urbanization, wouldn't it?


Defining The Solution: 

Smarter Cities

A Smart City is planned primarily to improve the quality of life of the citizens that will dwell in it. It is judged to be "smart" because it relies on the use of digital technology to bring about such life's qualities.

Each smart city should share this common objective, yet different smart city projects would be planned and implemented differently from one another.
However, most smart city projects commonly focus on 5 main areas:

Transport, Waste Management, Energy, Food and Water Supply.

I should also mention that so far, I haven't come across any smart city project that doesn't assume that a smarter city must be a green city (i.e. powered primarily by renewable energy). I would imagine that climate change skeptics may not be quite as big on that particular pre-requisite of smart cities though.

Smart City Should Convert Refuse To Energy

Mitchell Joachim, an architect at Terraform One, considers the most crucial technological piece for a smart city to be a central system for converting waste (or refuse) to energy.

When you really think about this (especially those of us who live in Lagos, Nigeria), that would be a fantastic solution to have at the heart of our cities. We would be killing two really really ugly birds with one stone. 




Anyway, this "spirit" of getting power out of waste, or of bringing good things out of not-so-good things, is what smart cities are ultimately about.

Cheong koon Hean compares a smart city (or town) to a human body. She describes the buildings where activities take place to muscles, the roads to the veins and arteries which move traffic (like blood) from building to building. She also compares trees and parks to the human lungs which help to cleanse the air and give oxygen.  

Mrs Cheong then compares the sensor layer of a data-driven intelligence system to the five senses of the human body, which works with our central nervous system and brain by providing information about what happens in the environment so the human being can learn how to adapt.

Then there is Dr Rick Robinson (The Urban Technologist)


The Social Scientist Not Forgotten


I first got interested in the topic of smart cities through my friend, an architect and a lecturer at the University of Lagos, David Adio-Moses. Yet, it was reading Dr Robinson's blog that my eyes truly opened to the necessity of the idea.
This article from Robinson's blog could open your eyes as well. 

It is possible, perhaps, that the main reason why I like Dr Robinson's guide to smart cities so much is because of his regard for social scientists (of which I myself am a natural progeny).
Indeed, like the phenomenal professor and father of artificial intelligence's Deep Learning, Geoffrey Hinton, Robinson favours a world where social scientists take significant roles in the advancement of our species.   


So in conclusion, we are now no longer indifferent; in that we realize that the problems that come with urbanization are real. We also know that there can be solutions that can help our cities adapt and learn how to tame these problems of urbanization. 

It all requires lots of planning and smart technology to get on top of these problems. And the best way to begin this planning and to learn to use this technology properly is to join the global smart cities conversations. 

I will be writing more about smart cities in the future. I will also be thinking of ways in which the technologies that I am interested in, like the Blockchain and the Semantic Web can help solve some of these problems. 

Thanks for reading. 
Please offer your contributions to this topic below. Also link up with me on LinkedIn or on Twitter.
You already know where to find me on GooglePlus.

I leave you with this video for more on smart cities.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What Is A Blockchain? Really!

If you have read my article that introduces Nigeria to Bitcoin, then you have a decent foundation for understanding this article.

So I am continuing in that introductory spirit with this piece on the blockchain, which is a crucial part of the Bitcoin universe.
I will try to keep this article short and reduce the jargon.



What Is The Bitcoin Blockchain?

The Blockchain is a publicly accessible ledger.
Or you might call it a kind of account book.

An account book that is open to anyone anywhere in the world

And yet, eventhough it is openly accessible to anyone for scrutiny on the Web, all of the records kept on this particular type of account book (unlike normal account books) do not carry the names or addresses of the account holders displayed within the rows of the ledger.  

The Blockchain merely organizes the accounts with identifiers known as public keys. And since an individual can own as many public keys as they like, this makes it possible for account holders on the Blockchain to be largely anonymous.

Now even though this may sound somewhat "shady" to some people, there are several reasons why anonymity of account holders can be a good thing. 
But I will look into that aspect of the Blockchain in later posts. So if you are more interested in that, then ensure that you let me know in the comments below, or simply follow this blog.►Click Here.

The Good Stuff


So now that you have an overview of the original Blockchain, or the Bitcoin Blockchain, let me give you an idea of the why this particular Blockchain is important, and why you must keep this in mind....

Unlike the other fake "blockchains"- that I would talk about in a moment, the Bitcoin Blockchain has sparked an unprecedented phase of proliferation of financial literacy and knowledge in online security. A phase that is rapidly becoming an era. A new era of enlightenment that could easily lead to a new age of innovation. 

World famous Bitcoin expert, Andreas Antonopoulos says it this way: 
"We are on the verge of a new transformation of money. The verge of creating the first completely global, completely borderless, completely decentralized and completely open."
The innovation is heading in a direction where we will build applications because this money is programmable. The Bitcoin Blockchain is about the "internet of money".
Think about this for a minute.


You don't need to ask anyone's permission to launch an application on the internet of money anymore than you need permission to launch an application on the internet.
And this is happening on a global scale. 


Antonopoulos insists that the other blockchains cannot cause this kind of exponential innovation.
I tend to agree with him. 

The Growing Blockchain Brouhaha


Even though there might be many blockchains today, the first ever Blockchain came from Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin whitepaper
The ones that I refer to as fake blockchains are those that were launched by and for the benefit of the existing big banks of the developed world. The good news though, is that of recent, they have stopped using the word, "blockchain" for those contraptions of recent. Yet, during those days of the financial sector's frenzy, they made it very clear what they were trying to do. You often heard them say things like, "Bitcoin is dead, the blockchain is the future" or the most popular one, "the true genius of bitcoin is not bitcoin itself - it is the blockchain".

Talk about wishful thinking...

Nakamoto

The Bitcoin inventor did not actually use the term, "blockchain" in his paper, but it is easy to see how it caught on when you read through the 9-page document.

Nakamoto actually uses the words "block" and "chain" separately and frequently as he tries to explain his proposed system of using a highly secure, chronological order of transactions on a global public ledger.
He created this publicly accessible, decentralized global account book to ensure that no government could issue more of the currency or impose restrictions on it. 

I know that may be confusing, but do stay with me, let me simplify it.

It was important to Nakamoto that his new digital cash would not need to go through a financial institution to pass from person to person. He believed it was crucial to develop a system that behaves more or less like physical cash in the sense that it would not require people needing to use a third party (financial institution - who, themselves use another party - Interswitch in Nigeria) to confidently carry out a transaction.

You don't need to trust a complete stranger if he paid you 350,000 Naira for your old and dying Toyota Corolla.
All you need is to count the money and see that the notes are not fake naira notes. Right?

Of course.

But in this case, if the bitcoins come into your public bitcoin address (or account), and then you choose not to deliver his car to him, then that becomes another matter. Just as such a scenario is also possible with real cash. 


The Blockchain And Timestamps

"Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties...What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party"
- Satoshi Nakamoto

But after Nakamoto had successfully created a way that cash value would pass from person to person (peer to peer), he needed to ensure that the money could not be duplicated, or that the already spent money would not be spent again by the payer.


"The problem of course is the payee can't verify that one of the owners did not double-spend the coin...We need a way for the payee to know that the previous owners did not sign any earlier transactions"
"The solution we (Nakamoto) propose begins with a timestamp server. A timestamp server works by taking a hash of a block of items to be timestamped and widely publishing the hash, such as in a newspaper...The timestamp proves that the data must have existed at the time, obviously, in order to get into the hash. Each timestamp includes the previous timestamp in its hash, forming a chain, with each additional timestamp reinforcing the ones before it" 
Please, if you don't understand what is meant by "hash", you can ignore that for now. Only keep in mind that by using the highest technology in internet security to ascertain the exact time a transaction was done, they are able to create this innovation known as the Blockchain.

So here is the layman's summary of all of these:

The bitcoins that people will be sending and spending are generated by the Bitcoin software. That software ensures that they had to be timestamped onto the global account book known today as the Blockchain. All of these processes are open to scrutiny by all (auditors, software developers, account holders, and anyone who cares).

The Bitcoin software, with help from the its network of users (or nodes), manages the Blockchain and ensures the integrity of the bitcoins on it.   


So bitcoins need the Blockchain, and the Blockchain needs bitcoin. This is an important statement to keep in mind going forward, as you come across other blogs and articles that will want to teach you about "blockchains". Of which many of them will try to first dazzle you with eloquent speech and bragging of years of experience in international banks mixed with PhDs in computer science and all that.

The truth is, regardless of their qualifications, these big tlkers cannot build an aircraft using concrete as a primary component and then expect it to compare with one that was well thought through from the start.

Nakamoto was motivated to invent Bitcoin's Blockchain to solve a problem. These other so-called blockchains are coming from those who created that problem to start with.

I took this rant a bit further in my LinkedIn Post. See it here ► My LinkedIn Rant


Saturday, 10 September 2016

A Nigerian Introduction To Bitcoin

If you are reading this article, it means you are probably interested in learning more about Bitcoin or its Blockchain.
And if you are a Nigerian, or any English speaking African for that matter, then you have come to the right place.

Here, I will be crunching all of the technical jargon and explaining the plain facts about Bitcoin in layman's English.
Much later on, I will go slightly deeper in explaining the Blockchain. (That article is now available by the way - click here)

Meanwhile, beyond that, I will be exposing how Bitcoin relates to the other transformative digital technologies that I have been following (including the Semantic Web, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, etc).


But for now, let us talk about Bitcoin....


What Is Bitcoin?

First of all it is not a coin.
It is a cryptocurrency. It is also a kind of software.

Started in 2009, Bitcoin was meant to bring to the world, an anonymous, person to person transfer of money on the internet. It was designed to behave very similar to the way actual cash behaves. 
It is also meant to do this while bearing very low transaction costs for the sender, in comparison to current online banking transactions.
They call it the Money Transfer Protocol of the internet.

But before I come to explain the meaning of cryptocurrency, let me first of all mention that there are two distinct ways to look at Bitcoin:

There is bitcoin the currency (spelled with a small 'b').
And there is Bitcoin the software and protocol. So kindly take note of the difference in the usage of either small or capital letter 'B'.



The Bitcoin Software

The Bitcoin software was originally designed by a computer developer known as Satoshi Nakamoto. He designed it to manage a very high security peer to peer network using a technique known as public key cryptography

It is this cryptographic technique employed by the Bitcoin software that gives the bitcoin currency a very high level of security from hacking or theft as it is transferred from person to person throughout the internet. This cryptographic technique usage is the reason why it is called a cryptocurrency.

What Is a Cryptocurrency?

It is a kind of virtual currency that mostly tries to behave like cash, but with other programmable functions. On the internet, bitcoins can be sent or transferred from person to person like cash moves from hand to hand, without the need of a bank or  any other middle-man. 

Everyone understands how cash works: We see our naira notes, South African rand and US dollars as currency.
They are legal tender each within their respective countries.

You can confidently hand over the keys and the documents of your old car to someone if they give you raw cash.
As long as we can tell that the cash notes are not fake, we readily accept them as payment for anything.

However, whenever we have gathered lots of this cash, we no longer trust ourselves enough to keep all of it safe. Therefore we take most of it to the bank (a middle-man).
This is because we trust those banks, and we trust our government's central bank to protect the value of our money.




Trusted Third Parties 

Nevertheless, some people have argued that all the trust we place in these third parties (like banks) is a little too much, and therefore easily abused. Bitcoin was invented to remove this need to trust any human being or organization with our money.

This is why bitcoins acceptance is growing around the world at an increasing rate, and its value is increasing along with it. Many bitcoin users around the world no longer trust their government or their banks. Instead they trust the Bitcoin software because of its cutting-edge security and faith that its global value will continue growing in future. 

Meanwhile cryptocurrencies have much more functionality than normal money. For example, bitcoins are designed to be spent anywhere in the world. This is because it is completely decentralized and has no ties to any one country's central bank. 


As emails are to letters, so are bitcoins to cash

We know that emails do exactly what posted letters do, but also that emails can do a lot more than paper letters.
Apart from the speed of an email and the fact that you can send the same email to many people at the same time, emails can also have attachments in them, which can be videos or other digital media. 
Letters cannot do anything like this. 

So also cryptocurrencies have several functionalities that paper cash does not have. And I will look into these in a future post. But for now, some of those include assigning additional values to your money, ensuring the money behaves in a specific way, creating and enforcing legally binding contracts without the high cost of lawyers, etc. 

Not A Ponzi Scheme

Now, for those who are asking whether Bitcoin is a ponzi scheme, some zealous websites out there are selling ponzi schemes while using the word 'bitcoin' to draw attention to themselves.
It is very important to note that Bitcoin has nothing to do with these ponzi schemes or any other kind of network marketing schemes. 

Ponzi schemes are fraudulent businesses that use multi-level marketing (MLM) strategies that give the early investors a hope of getting rich quickly by inviting other investors (or down-lines). Ultimately, the business isn't selling any product of actual value, and at the end of the day, only the earliest investors earn any profit.  

Investing in bitcoins on the other hand, means that you are simply collecting virtual currency that has been increasing in real monetary value (it started as $0 in 2009; now worth $624 as of today), and allows you to spend and receive money from across international borders without needing a bank, or Western Union, and their typically exorbitant transaction fees.

This can be very good for Africa.
But also take note that I am not saying that Bitcoin is perfect, or that you should go and invest everything you have in it.
No. Certainly not. Please always be careful with how you digest information. 

What I am really saying here is that I think it is quite important to, at least, pay close attention to it, as Bitcoin looks like a world changing technology in the making. 


Bitcoin And The Blockchain

Now, Bitcoin is primarily a software that secures the bitcoin currency. It also sets it immutability.
By this I mean that once a bitcoin has been spent online or transferred, it cannot be reversed. 
The only way you can get a bitcoin back after sending it to someone is if that person agrees to send it back to you in another transaction.

The Bitcoin software governs this highly controlled and secure behavior of bitcoins thanks to the blockchain
The blockchain is a kind of database or ledger that records and stored all bitcoin transactions and is protected by cryptography, and is publicly and transparently maintained by the entire growing Bitcoin network of users.


I will write more about this blockchain and other blockchains in the future. I will try to explain some of its technical aspects in simple terms and also show examples of where the technology is already being used. This is because I believe that Africa needs an early invitation to come and learn one of the likely leading technologies of the next digital revolution and fourth industrial revolution. Blockchain technology is in my opinion, perhaps even more important than the Internet of Things, than Smart Cities, or than the Semantic Web.


What's Next With Bitcoin?

A lot!
As though the future wasn't already promising a lot of major digital technological wonders, Bitcoin has come and added a new dimension.

The recent success of Bitcoin across continents has not only raised the value of the currency and its usage and acceptance, it has also sparked off the development of other cryptocurrencies, each with their own blockchains. 
And of course, you can expect that I would be following these trends. 

Some have argued that the value of one Bitcoin could eventually reach $ 1 million by 2025. But such speculations are not my concern. I focus on understanding and analyzing the technology and especially how it can be useful to Africans and to Nigeria. 

I will encourage you to follow this blog if you wish to learn more about the future of money. Or you can also find my other articles in newspapers by searching on Google for "Rotimi Orimoloye Bitcoin News" or "Rotimi Orimoloye Digital Africa". 
if you are interested in other digital technologies and how such information and knowledge can improve the quality of life of Africans.

So what are you waiting for? Go and start getting your bitcoins!
And if you don't have enough money to buy the minimum of $10 worth of coins, the good news is that there are a few websites that give out free bitcoins. Not much, but enough to get you started with Bitcoin and to transfer small change among your friends, just to know how Bitcoin works. Here is one of such websites

Please ensure that you set up a Bitcoin Wallet and get your Address before you can claim your free bitcoins/satoshi.

If you have any questions about this topic or anything to add to this article, please feel free to use the comments below. I am always happy to engage in the conversations that can more Africa forward.






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Apples, Teslas, Blue Oceans and Beats

I may not be a great writer, but  I ask you to please stay with me for a little while, as I show you something special I discovered about &q...